Trichinosis is basically a food-borne condition that occurs after ingesting raw or poorly cooked meats especially pork products that are infested with the larvae of a worm known as trichinella spiralis. Anyone can acquire the condition regardless of the health status or age.
Causes of trichinosis
The usual causes of trichinosis include the following:
- Ingestion of incorrectly stored meats
- Eating raw or poorly cooked pork products
- Using contaminated or poorly cleaned kitchen utensils during the preparation of meats
Symptoms of trichinosis
The symptoms of trichinosis can range from mild to severe which includes the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Fever and chills
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Muscle soreness
- Eye swelling
The other symptoms that can develop include chills, thirst, excessive sweating and extreme tiredness. The symptoms can last from 5-45 days but typically manifest 10-14 days after ingesting the infected meat. The mild cases of trichinosis are often mistaken for the flu or other common conditions. In severe cases, the condition can result to death.
Prevention of trichinosis
It is relatively simple to prevent this condition with the following:
- Pork should be frozen less than 6 inches thick for 20 days at 5 degrees F
- Meat products should be cooked until the juices are clear or until an internal temperature of 170 degrees F is reached. It is best to purchase a meat thermometer to ensure accuracy.
- Cook other meat products thoroughly
- During preparation of ground meat, make sure that the meat grinders are thoroughly cleaned using hot, soapy water.
- Ensure that the kitchen utensils and countertops are meticulously cleaned with hot, soapy water.
If the individual ate raw or poorly cooked meat and develops symptoms of trichinosis, a doctor should be consulted. The treatment must be started as soon as possible since a delay can be fatal.
The treatment is usually based on the symptoms, cause and the results of the laboratory tests. For mild cases, it includes bed rest and medications to relieve the fever and muscle soreness. As for severe cases, steroids are usually given to reduce the inflammation of the muscles as well as heart complications.